OSHA Considering Lockout/Tagout Update

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) may be looking to update its Control of Hazardous Energy, also known as Lockout/Tagout, standard. The agency is requesting input from the public, specifically about the use of control circuit-type devices to isolate energy, as well as robotics technology.

OSHA is requesting information about:

  • how employers have been using control circuit devices, including information about the types of circuitry and safety procedures being used
  • limitations of their use, to determine under what other conditions control circuit-type devices could be used safely
  • new risks of worker exposure to hazardous energy as a result of increased interaction with robots
  • whether the agency should consider changes to the LOTO standard that would address these new risks.

The current standard “requires that all sources of energy be controlled during servicing and maintenance of machines and equipment using an energy-isolating device.” It further specifies that control circuit devices cannot be used, “but the agency recognizes recent technological advances may have improved the safety of control circuit-type devices,” OSHA stated in a news release.

The Lockout/Tagout standard was first published in 1989.  Comments must be submitted by mail, by fax, or online on or before August 18, 2019.

OSHA Proposes Change to Beryllium Rule

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has proposed changes to the beryllium standard for general industry. According to OSHA, the changes are designed to clarify the standard and simply compliance.

The proposed rule would add or change the definitions of six terms, namely:

  • beryllium sensitization
  • beryllium work area
  • chronic beryllium disease
  • CBD diagnostic center
  • confirmed positive
  • and dermal contact with beryllium

The proposed rule will also modify additional sections of the standard including “Methods of Compliance,” “Personal Protective Clothing and Equipment,” “Hygiene Areas and Practices,” “Housekeeping,” “Medical Surveillance,” “Hazard Communication,” and “Recordkeeping.”

It would also remove the existing Appendix A, which lists suggested controls, and replace it with a new Appendix A, Operations for Establishing Beryllium Work Areas.

Back in January 2017, OSHA published a final rule Occupational Exposure to Beryllium and Beryllium Compounds. The rule set new permissible exposure limits to significantly reduce beryllium risk to workers. Other requirements included rules for exposure assessment, methods for controlling exposure, respiratory protection, personal protective equipment, medical surveillance, hazard communication, and recordkeeping.

OSHA is enforcing the permissible exposure limit of 0.2 micrograms of beryllium per cubic meter of air and the short-term exposure limit of 2 micrograms per cubic meter of air for general industry, construction and shipyards.

This new proposed rule satisfies a settlement agreement with stakeholders that had concerns about some of the provisions in the 2017 beryllium final rule.

Beryllium is a strong, lightweight metal used in electronics and the defense industry, among others. Overexposure can cause serious health risks, including incurable chronic beryllium disease and lung cancer. According to OSHA’s estimates, about 62,000 workers are exposed to beryllium each year.

Comments, hearing requests, and other information must be submitted electronically at http://www.regulations.gov, the Federal eRulemaking Portal, or by mail. Comments must be submitted by February 11, 2019. The enforcement date for the provisions affected by this proposal is December 12, 2018.